The Disability Studies Collaborative at the University of Arizona has received a $50,000 grant from the Paralyzed Veterans of America Educational Foundation to explore the impact of sport and wellness on veterans with spinal cord injuries.
Veterans from across the nation will arrive on campus in mid-October for a five-day sports camp that includes an introduction to college life. Following the camp, UA researchers will engage veterans in a qualitative study to explore their personal concepts of disability and how sport impacts their educational goals.
"The project builds off of the foundation laid by the Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education project, administered out of the Disability Resource Center and the UA's commitment to research and service to veterans in establishing veteran-friendly campus practices," said Amanda Kraus, assistant director of the Disability Resource Center and adjunct professor of higher education.
Research-based outcomes of the wellness camps will explore the impact of sports in supporting veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease with an emphasis on transitions to higher education.
"While adaptive athletics opportunities are increasingly available, few studies examine the impact during the transition into civilian and academic life," Kraus said. "This project responds to the need for more educational research examining the role of adaptive athletics on the health, wellness and identity of veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease."
The research team will be led by Michael T. Hartley, assistant professor of disability and psychoeducational studies in the College of Education, and Alberto Guzman, research associate and senior consultant for access services with Disability Resource Center, and Kraus.
The UA's Adaptive Athletics program is the most comprehensive collegiate wheelchair sports program in the nation, Kraus said, offering five competitive sport teams: men's and women's basketball, tennis, rugby, track and road racing.
The teams are led by professionals with unique expertise in rehabilitation, disability, adaptive athletics and higher education.
Offering an opportunity to examine the utility of adaptive athletics, the project expects to provide information that can define how veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease approach transition to civilian and academic life.